Saturday, September 30, 2006

Terrible Situations with Wonderful Results


Matthew 1:12 KJV
And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

This is the very same Zorobabel who was so many years earlier used to help lead the Jews out of Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem. Here the Word of God focuses on the fact that he was born after the captivity. That is an obvious fact, but is singled out for thought in Matthew.

Perhaps it is just to mark that this is when the captivity took place among the generations of Jesus. But I think there is another reason. I think God wanted us to remember that even during that terrible time, God was planning wonderful things. I doubt that Jechonias or Salathiel even dreamed that one of their own would be so instrumentally used of the Lord. Yet God was working things into the future.

The same is true in our lives. Sometimes, when we are going through terrible times, we have great trouble seeing how things could ever work out again. In those times of despair it is very important to lean upon the Lord Jesus Christ, let Him give you rest and peace and simply trust Him that He often turns terrible situations into wonderful results.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I Come Quickly


Revelation 22:7 KJV
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

There are three times in this one chapter that Jesus says "I come quickly;"
Verse 7
Verse 12
Verse 20

I only know one really great application for that statement and that is that Jesus is coming quickly! John Gill's notes say, "....though it will not be sooner than the time appointed, yet will be as soon as that time is come, and sooner than is generally expected by men."[1]

It is a spiritual discipline to train oneself to keep looking for the Lord's return. We do not know the day nor the hour, but we do know it will be quickly.

What a blessed hope!
What a joy to the soul!
What thoughts of rest and peace!


Even so come, Lord Jesus.


[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Light things


2 Kings 3:18 KJV
And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.

Some of those requests that we think are the most impossible are only a light thing in the sight of the Lord.

I can see the Israelites reasoning that God had delivered them from their enemies before. God had helped them in battle before, besides, a little hard work on their part, with some help of the Lord on the side, could make a battle work out just fine. They had three kings, after all, against only one king. But the water in the wilderness, that is a different story. There was nothing they could do to make water appear. Hard work would only worsen the need for water. This is a very bad situation!

But as bad as it was for men, it was only a light thing in the sight of our God. He not only gave them water, but He used the very miracle that gave the water as the weapon that led to victory against the Moabites.

Our troubles are only light things for God to solve. If only we will rest in Him to work things to His glory.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

If I be a man of God


2 Kings 1:10 KJV
And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

Barnes' Notes says
"What was Elijah’s motive? And the answer is: Sharply to make a signal example, to vindicate God’s honor in a striking way. ....
Elijah was not Jesus Christ, able to reconcile mercy with truth, the vindication of God’s honor with the utmost tenderness for erring men, and awe them merely by His presence (compare John18:6). In Elijah the spirit of the Law was embodied in its full severity. His zeal was fierce; he was not shocked by blood; he had no softness and no relenting."

It goes on further down to say, "No true Christian after Pentecost would have done what Elijah did. But what he did, when he did it, was not sinful."[1]

I am reminded that James and John wanted to call fire from heaven and were rebuked for it.

Still there is such a need today for a "signal example, to vindicate God's honor in a striking way." Christianity is so diverse. We have everything from the liberal type of churches to arguments among Independent Baptists concerning what is right and true preaching.
I know that even in the Old Testament there were those disputers of the truth.
I also know that God did not destroy everyone who preached His message wrong.
But we do find in the Word of God occasions like this in the Word of God where the Lord sets the standard strait for us once again. We are able to get our spiritual bearings and remember once again where the truth lies.

O Lord, we need that once again. We need something that wipes away the confusion in the eyes of men. We need a "signal example" that sets men on the right course once again.


[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mercy is not always the answer


1 Kings 20:31 KJV
And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life.

1 Kings 20:32 KJV
So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother.

1 Kings 20:42-43 KJV
And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.
And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.


Now here is an interesting less and one that I know must be taken in balance and with the right heart. The Bible says that the testimony of the kings of Israel was (and remember; these kings of Israel were not godly men) that they were merciful kings. Benhadad, a man who had been judged of the Lord and sentenced, was spared by the mercy of Ahab.

Almost at once God's prophet came to Ahab to pronounce judgment upon him for not executing the will of the Lord. The prophet says it thus, "...they life for his life..."

I wonder how often we suffer judgment and troubles in this life because we chose to be kind
When we should have taken a stand for the truth.
When we were too timid to rebuke a wrong
When we did not want to offend so we said nothing


It is a grand thing to be merciful and the Word of God says our God's mercies are "new every morning." But that has to be kept into context. God is also unbending concerning sin righteousness and judgment. We would do well to remember that

Monday, September 25, 2006

Come Out


Revelation 18:4 KJV
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

The other voice that is here referred to is likely the voice of God Himself since He uses the term "my people." So while the angel is crying out concerning the destruction of the city, God is calling out for the protection of His own people. The destruction is inevitable and must happen. God had ordained that this angel pronounce the judgment. Yet God's heart is still for His people.

This passage speaks specifically about a time in the future when the great city of Babylon is destroyed in the Tribulation. However the principle is not only Tribulational. God's people are to be separate and unique from this world. In fact, God's main thrust today is to call out of this world a people who will be His own. It would not be wrong to say that every soul that gets saved has heard the Lord say, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

I wonder, though, how often we who are saved forget that God wants us to come out of the world?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Called, Chosen and Faithful



Revelation 17:14 KJV
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

At the battle of Armageddon, when the Lord returns to establish His kingdom, the Bible says they that are with Him are
Called
Chosen and
Faithful

Those who are with Him are the believers who have died and gone to heaven before this. They are, if I may, Christians....you and me.

The Bible gives them three adjectives to describe them.
They are called
The word means invited or appointed. It also applies to the saint.

The Lord's main concern today is to call out a bride for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is seeking and saving the lost.

They are chosen
This word means favorite or select.

What I like about this is that every one of the ones with Him are chosen and favorite. I think that is how the Lord looks at every child of God. We are all His favorites. Just as a parent loves every one of his children with the very same intensity, though every child is different, the Lord loves every one of His own as if that one were the only one.

They are faithful
This word means trustworthy.

It strikes me that the only one of the three that I have any real influence over is this one. I cannot invite myself, I must be invited. I cannot choose myself, I must be chosen. But if I am faithful it is because I chose to be faithful.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

God, hast thou also brought evil ...?


1 Kings 17:20 KJV
And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

Elijah has quite a question of the Lord.
After God had brought the prophet to be cared for by this widow and her son
After God had performed so miraculously in meeting their material needs during this drought and famine
After this woman and her son had so faithfully followed the Lord's plan for their lives
Is it really possible that God would bring this evil upon the widow?

It seems to me that the answer is "No." And it seems to me that is the answer because God restored the son's life back to him.

What I think is revealed here is how Satan will attack a godly family in their weakest area. Oftentimes when a family does what is right it will be the children who come under attack. Satan knows whom he is most likely to devour.

And the encouragement to me here is that, though Satan attacked, he did not gain his objective. God heard the prayer of Elijah and God restored the son's life.

We live in a wicked world and we will not help but face attacks. But we can be sure that our Saviour is there to bless and protect and that he will do as much if we will but ask.

Friday, September 22, 2006

His works and His ways


Revelation 15:3 KJV
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

What a majestic phrase, "Great and marvellous are thy works.... just and true are thy ways..."

Great; big. High, loud large
Marvellous; wonderful, incredible

Just; holy, right
True; real genuine; nothing concealed

Works; a deed or act
Ways; path or journey

I the works of this passage as being "what God does" and the ways of this passage as being "why God does it." There is the deed done and there is the motivation for doing it.

The things God does and the direction He travels is alike great, marvelous, just and true.

It is important, I think, to see who it is who is saying this of the Lord. These are those who took a stand as they refused to
Obey the beast,
Worship his image or
Take his mark and number


They are already in heaven even though the Tribulation is not finished which implies that their stand cost them their lives. I am only imagining now but
I imagine some of them might have starved to death because they could not buy and sell after refusing to accept the mark.
I imagine in this number are those who watched their children and other loved ones weep violently as they saw this one go to the gallows or the chopping block.
I imagine in this crowd is someone who was forced to watch as one of their own loved ones was slain for the very same convictions they had.
In this crowd is
A mother
A father
A son
A daughter
A husband and
A wife
Who became estranged from their family when they took their stand for Christ and the family member would not.

These are people who knew intense hardship as well as heartache on the earth.

And yet in heaven they sang this song saying, "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."

I suggest if they can sing it in heaven we ought to sing it on earth today.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

But He Lied


1 Kings 13:18 KJV
He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.

Albert Barnes makes an interesting statement here, "It is always to be remembered that the prophetic gift might co-exist with various degrees of moral imperfection in the person possessing it. Note especially the case of Balaam."[1]

Over the years I have witnessed several men who were obviously talented so far as the ministry is concerned only to discover that they were involved in things that are immoral. It seems like the two cannot mix, but Barnes points out that sometimes they do. King Saul would be another such case.

As I have meditated upon this today I am struck with the fact that each of us is responsible to open the Word of God and find out what it says for ourselves. God does place in our lives men of God; a pastor, an evangelist, a missionary, or a godly church member whose spiritual counsel and advice we ought to heed. But at the same time, we are responsible to check in the Word of God and make sure that our man of God is telling us what the Word of God says.

It is not right to dismiss the man of God's message just because we do not like it. Jeroboam's arm withered when his anger was pointed toward the man of God. This is not permission to ignore the preacher just because we don't like his message. On the other hand, neither can we claim innocence if we should follow the Word of a professed man of God without our own study of the Bible to insure that his message is from the Lord.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Spoiled Opportunity


1 Kings 11:38 KJV
And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.

I see in Jeroboam a picture similar to that of the Gentiles. God's chosen kingdom was through the family of David and Solomon, the Jews. However, because of sins in Solomon's life, God offered a wonderful opportunity to Jeroboam, a mere servant. If he would obey the Lord in the way that Solomon had not, then he could have the very promise God had made to David and Solomon. This is just what God did for the Gentiles. Though the Jews are His chosen people, because of their unbelief God opened the door of opportunity to the Gentiles to become children of God. The promise to the Gentiles is one of great grace and mercy.
It is not deserved.
It is despite the fact that the Gentiles had never followed the Lord and
It is only because the Jews did not obey the Lord as they should have

What a blessing!

But the warning in the text stems from the fact that Jeroboam did not obey the Lord as God instructed. He let jealousy and desire to control block his judgment so that he rebelled against the very God who had promised him such grace and he lost the promise for himself and his posterity.

God is so gracious and kind to us. But that is no reason to assume such graciousness will continue indefinitely. God seeks Christians who will be faithful to Him.

May we be those Christians.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Judge Thy Servants

1 Kings 8:32 KJV
Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.
Solomon's prayer is offered in consideration of his people, the Jews. But I want to echo the same prayer today. Those things Solomon prayed for in verses 29-40 are still prayers that need answers today. And we need the answers for the very same reasons that Solomon said they needed them,
1 Kings 8:40 KJV
That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
The faith of the fathers seems to be dwindling in power. It seems like fewer and fewer are willing to follow the Lord in a Christ-like way. Worldliness has so invaded Christianity that those who look to be the godliest must be a grief to the Lord when considered next to the likes of men like Apostle Paul.

I am so grateful for the mercy and longsuffering of our Saviour. It has spared me more often than I can imagine. However, there must come a time of judgment and condemnation for wrong. When Christians can be as worldly and as wicked as we are there must be condemnation of the wicked and justification of the righteous for the sake of the name of the Lord among men. We will likely lead fewer and fewer to Christ until there is a sense of the fear of God among men again.

So Lord, "Hear thou in heaven and do and judge thy servants..."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ever a Lover


1 Kings 5:1 KJV
And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.

Over the last several weeks of reading the life of King David I have been impressed with the fact that there is an undercurrent of rebellion throughout the entire reign. David, though blessed of God and used of the Lord, never had peace. Even Solomon admitted that David had "....wars which were about him on every side...." (vs 3.) You have to wonder what kind of pressure David experienced because of all these wars and troubles.

Yet David had some great friends. Besides the strength he must have gained from his relationship with Almighty God, David had some loyal followers represented by the 33 mighty men of David. And David had at least this one great friend; Hiram, a king of a different nation, who was "ever a lover of David."

Few things console us as much as this type of friend. And may our Lord allow us to be for someone just such a friend.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Way of All the Earth


1 Kings 2:2 KJV
I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;

It doesn't matter who we are;
Rich or poor
Powerful or pauper
Healthy or sickly
Famous or unknown

We will all "go the way of all the earth" which is through the grave. Death is an inescapable fact for all but that blessed generation who will enter into heaven through the rapture. Some people live many years before they face death. Others face it early on in life. Some people die peacefully and painlessly. Others suffer terribly on their way. But none escape the way of all the earth.

And this one fact ought to cause the child of God to focus his life on something far greater than himself. There are souls that are lost and there are people who need comforting and guidance so that, when they go this way, they may do it with the assurance that Christ will be there to meet them.

Friday, September 15, 2006

He Heareth


Proverbs 15:29 KJV
The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Heareth; to hear intelligently, to give attention to
Prayer; intercession, supplication, especially ones set to music
Righteous; just, lawful.

John Gill says, "...there is none like them that has God so nigh them as they have; his eyes are upon them, and his ears are open to their cries; he is a God hearing and answering their prayers, and bestows upon them the favours they ask for, and stand in need of."[1]

There are days in one's life when words such as these become so much more important to us; days when we feel we must have the ear of God.

In days such as those a person needs to know that things are right between him and his God so that he can know God hears his prayers. It reminds me that every day I need to seek the Lord. Every day I need to walk with him so that when the day comes when I have to have his ear, it is no stretch to have it.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

...he moved David...


2 Samuel 24:1 KJV
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

I selected this passage today just because I did not know how to reconcile it. I could not imagine that God would move David to number Israel and at the same time call David's numbering of them a sin.

The answer is found by simply comparing Scripture with Scripture. 2 Chronicles 21:1 is a parallel passage and says that Satan provoked David to do the numbering.

Yet God knew it and used it to bring judgment against Israel (not Judah; the pestilence stopped before if got to Jerusalem). When you read David's story you learn that there was always an undercurrent of rebellion with Israel against David. God used David's error in a similar way as God used Joseph's brothers, or Nebuchadnezzar, to bring about God's will.

Lessons:
First, Oh the sin of rebellion! Israel never did get over it and they suffered heavily because of it.

Second, even the best men can be provoked by Satan. Joab tried to warn David, but his eyes were blinded. We must be sober and vigilant. Satan is out to devour us.

Third, we can trust the Lord. While we might not always understand what He is doing, He will make things work out right.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sealed


Revelation 7:3 KJV
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

Adam Clarke makes this comment, “By sealing we are to understand consecrating the persons in a more especial manner to God, and showing, by this mark of God upon them, that they were under his more immediate protection, and that nothing should hurt them. It was a custom in the east, and indeed in the west too, to stamp with a hot iron the name of the owner upon the forehead or shoulder of his slave.
It is worthy of remark that not one Christian perished in the siege of Jerusalem; all had left the city, and escaped to Pella. This I have often had occasion to notice."[1]

I was reminded that the Word of God says of the Christian
Eph 1:13-14
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (KJV)

And
Eph 4:30
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (KJV)

And
2 Cor 1:22
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (KJV)

So while the passage in Revelation has to do with Jewish evangelists in the Tribulation, there is a similar sealing that belongs to the Christian in our day.

There is much hurt being done in this world today.
Sin is rampant and rising.
The faith is being washed out by heresies of every sort
Wicked religions are rising in prominence among those with political and world influence

But the Christian still has this claim. He can still pray for sealing and protection in the midst of it all.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., (1715-1832)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Even So


Revelation 4:11 KJV
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Though the crescendo of the passage is obviously this, Chapter 4 is an altogether sublime text.

Most students of the Bible consider this to be representative of the rapture. John had his eyes on the things of the Lord when suddenly there was the voice calling "come up hither" and immediately he was in the spirit.

What a wonderful day that is going to be when we drop these rags of worldliness called the body and we are transported to the glories of heaven.

I think the thing that struck me the most today is that there is nothing to dread of fear in the text. John's journey to glory is only wondrous. We tend to fear the unknown and passing into glory certainly has some huge unknowns. But the Word of God gives us several indicators that this journey is a glorious one.

Even so Lord Jesus, please come quickly.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Revival in Laodicea


Revelation 3:18 KJV
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

The church at Laodicea was surely a mess. But the blessing of the passage is that there is as much opportunity for repentance and revival there as in any of the churches Jesus addressed. Jesus gave them three actions toward revival.

Lay up treasures in heaven
Redeem the things that this world has and count them but loss for the things that you can lay up in glory instead. Too much of today's Christian culture is geared toward success and riches and in this life. There is in us the idea that if we are successful Christians today we must have success awaiting us in heaven. We are poor (in eternal things) and do not know it.

Pursue white raiment
Most think this to mean purity and holiness. Nothing in this world is so valuable as to be worth losing holiness with God for. When we must fudge a little in godliness and purity and righteousness to obtain what we desire of this world we have paid too high a price. Rather be poor in this world and blind in this world and naked in this world's things if through that we might wear the white raiment of purity.

Take care of your spiritual eyes.
There is an entire world of spiritual life going on that we are unable to see. Angels and principalities operate invisibly around us at all times. Like we can't see those angels and their activities, we are prone to be blind to other spiritual things. The lost man is blind to the saving truth of the Gospel. The worldly man is blind to the heavenly riches he is forsaking. And the Christian's spiritual eyesight is constantly in danger of being compromised by the lures of this world. Care must be taken to improve our spiritual eyesight through the graces of Jesus Christ.

In all three the word buy seems important. The word means to go to market. In other words this gold tried in the fire, this white raiment and this eye salve will not come to us accidentally. We are going to have to apply means. We are going to have to put on our shoes and exercise ourselves in order to have them. They cannot be purchased in our own merits. They must come to us through the grace of Christ. But neither will they come if we will not seek them.

Friday, September 01, 2006

God is greater


1 John 3:20 KJV
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Albert Barnes Notes says of this, "...We cannot hope to find peace by hiding anything from [God's] view, or by any supposition that he is not acquainted with the sins for which our consciences trouble us. He knows all the sins of which we are conscious, and sees all their guilt and aggravation as clearly as we do. He knows more than this. He knows all the sins which we have forgotten; all those acts which we endeavor to persuade ourselves are not sinful, but which are evil in his sight; and all those aggravations attending our sins which it is impossible for us fully and distinctly to conceive."

He goes on to say, "...He is more disposed to condemn sin than we are; he looks on it with less allowance than we do. We cannot hope, then, for a calm mind in any supposition that God does not see our sins as clearly as we do, or in any hope that he will look on them with more favor and indulgence...."[1]

We are too quick to excuse, dismiss and indulge sin in our lives. We are too easy on ourselves and we deceive ourselves if we believe that God will be easy on us as well.

Thank God for His grace! Thank God His mercies are new every morning! But His grace and mercy in no way permit us to continue in sin. It is time for us to fess up and make things right with God.

And praise God when we do, we are completely forgiven and cleansed.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)